Women's Suffrage Leaders: Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Frances Willard, Emma

Bill Federer

In the U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a sculpture of women suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott.

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) was a noted Quaker minister praised by Frederick Douglass.

She spoke at a Women's Rights Convention in Philadelphia, October 18, 1854.

In the large audience were supporters abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and her husband, Quaker leader James Mott, who was a founder of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society in 1838.

Lucretia Mott stated:

"On the occasion of the first miracle which it is said Christ wrought, a woman went before Him and said, 'Whatsoever he biddeth you do, that do.'

The woman of Samaria said, 'Come and see the man who told me all the things that ever I did' ...

The very first act of note that is mentioned when the disciples and apostles went forth after Jesus was removed from them, was the bringing up of an ancient prophecy to prove that they were right in the position they assumed on that occasion, when men and women were gathered together on the holy day of Pentecost, when every man heard and saw those wonderful works which are recorded.

Then Peter stood forth ... quoting the prophet Joel ... that 'the time is come, this day is fulfilled the prophecy, when it is said, I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,' etc. -- the language of the Bible is beautiful in its repetition -- 'upon my servants and my handmaidens I will pour out my spirit and they shall prophesy.'

Now can anything be clearer than that?"

Lucretia Mott, who is featured on a U.S. Postage Stamp, advocated for women suffrage, stating December 17, 1849:

"The laws given on Mount Sinai for the government of man and woman were equal, the precepts of Jesus make no distinction.

Those who read the Scriptures, and judge for themselves, not resting satisfied with the perverted application of the text, do not find the distinction, that theology and ecclesiastical authorities have made, in the condition of the sexes."

Susan B. Anthony (1830-1906) is depicted on a U.S. dollar coin, and on a 3-cent stamp.

She was raised a Quaker. Her father owned a cotton mill and refused to buy cotton from farmers who owned slaves.

Susan B. Anthony's religious upbringing instilled in her the concept that every one is equal before God and motivated her to crusade for freedom for slaves.

After the Civil War, Susan worked hard for the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

Opposing liquor, drunkenness and abortion, she encountered mobs, armed threats, objects thrown at her and was hung in effigy.

Her efforts helped bring about the 18th Amendment (Prohibition), ratified in 1919.

She succeeded in having women admitted to the University of Rochester, and campaigned for a woman's right to vote.

Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting in the 1872 Presidential Election, saying she "positively voted the Republican ticket-straight."

In 1873, Susan stood trial before Justice Ward Hunt. in U.S. Federal Court.

On the final day of the trial, she was allowed to speak, giving what was described as "the most famous speech in the history of the agitation for woman suffrage."

Justice Ward kept interrupting her, ordering her to sit down, but she refused calling out "this high-handed outrage upon my citizen's rights."

Justice Hunt fined her $100, which she immediately protested that she would never pay.

Hunt announced she would not be jailed for failure to pay the fine, which effectively prevented the case from going to the Supreme Court.

Susan B. Anthony died MARCH 13, 1906. Fourteen years after her death, women won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920.

After learning her sister-in-law had had an abortion, Susan B. Anthony wrote in her diary:

"She will rue the day she forces nature."

Susan B. Anthony was quoted in The Revolution, July 1869:

"I deplore the horrible crime of child-murder ...

No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed.

It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death;

But oh! Thrice guilty is he who ... drove her to the desperation which impels her to the crime."

In a speech she gave repeatedly in the 1870s, Susan B. Anthony stated:

"The prosecutions on our courts for breach of promise, divorce, adultery, bigamy, seduction, rape; the newspaper reports every day of every year of scandals and outrages, of wife murders and paramour shooting, of abortions and infanticides, are perpetual reminders of men's incapacity to cope successfully with this monster evil of society."

Susan B. Anthony wrote in 1889 to Frances Willard:

"Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so that their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them."

A statue of Francis Willard is in the U.S. Capitol Building's National Statuary Hall, placed there by the State of Illinois.

She was the first woman college president in the United States, appointed to that position at Methodist Evanston College for Ladies in 1871.

Frances Willard (1839-1898) whose family had changed from Congregational Christian to Methodist, directed women's meetings for Chicago evangelist Dwight L. Moody in 1877.

In 1878, she was elected president of the Illinois chapter of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, then the next year became its national president.

Frances Williard spoke in every state in the union at the time, campaigning for prohibition of liquor with the passage of the 18th Amendment, and promoting women voting with the 19th Amendment.

Frances Willard defended "womanliness," explaining that a woman should first be womanly, and wrote in A White Life for Two (Chicago: Women's Temperance Publishing Association, 1890):

"God sets male and female side by side throughout his realm of law."

She was the first dean of women at Northwestern University, founder of the World's Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and first president of the National Council of Women.

Frances Willard defended women being public speakers:

"The masses of the people have forsaken God's house, and solace themselves in the saloons or the Sunday newspaper. But the masses will go to hear women when they speak.

Every woman who leads a life of weekday holiness, has the Gospel in her looks, however plain her face and dress may be, has round her head the sweet Madonna's halo, in the eyes of every man who sees her.

She speaks to him with the cadence of his own mother's voice. The devil knew what he was doing when he exhausted sophistry to keep woman down and silent ...

Men have been preaching well nigh two thousand years, and the large majority of the converts have been women.

Suppose now that women should share the preaching power, might it not be reasonably expected that a majority of the converts under their administration would be men?

Indeed, how else are the latter to have a fair chance at the Gospel? ... Why, then should the pulpit be shorn of half its power?"

Frances Willard's older cousin was Emma Willard (1787-1870), who was an American educator and historian.

Emma was born in Berlin, Connecticut and began teaching at the age of sixteen.

Emma was married to John Willard in 1809, and with his help she established a girl's boarding school in Middlebury, Vermont.

Emma Willard founded Troy Female Seminary in 1821, which was the first school in the United States to offer higher education for women.

Emma Willard explained that the 19th century version of feminism was as an exercise in "pure practical Christianity."

A famous graduate from Troy Female Seminary in 1832 was Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902).

Her "Declaration of Sentiments" at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention is credited with initiating the nation's women's rights and women's suffrage movements.

Regarding abortion, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote:

"There must be a remedy for such a crying evil as this ... Let woman assert herself ... and end this wholesale suffering and murder of helpless children."

Troy Female Seminary was renamed in 1895 to Emma Willard School.

Emma wrote many successful books and later built a school for women in Athens, Greece.

In 1843, Emma Willard wrote:

"The government of the United States is acknowledged by the wise and good of other nations, to be the most free, impartial, and righteous government of the world;

but all agree, that for such a government to be sustained for many years, the principles of truth and righteousness, taught in the Holy Scriptures, must be practiced.

The rulers must govern in the fear of God, and the people obey the laws."

In commenting on the United States, Emma Willard stated:

"In observing the United States, there is much to convince us, that an Almighty, Overruling Providence, designed from the first, to place here a great, united people."

In 1857, Emma Willard published a book for children titled, Morals for the Young: or, Good Principles Instilling Wisdom, in which she wrote:

My Dear Children and Youth:-

Since, then, wisdom teaches us to rate everything at its just value, it is wise to seek the favor and fear the frown of God, rather than to seek the favor,and fear the frown of men ...

Look upon a Savior's cross ... ask pardon ... and the Holy Spirit's guidance ... receive the Christian's armor."